Nursing students' experience of workplace violence in clinical practice: A qualitative systematic review

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Aims: To systematically identify, appraise and synthesise qualitative studies investigating Registered Nurse students' (RNS) experiences of workplace violence (WPV) while on clinical placement. It is expected that the literature review findings will guide the development of targeted programs and policies to address WPV against RNS. Background: WPV affects RNS during clinical placements as they are vulnerable to violence due to their limited experience and skills to challenge abusive behaviour. In this review, RNS are students enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing program to become registered nurses and exclude students who are enrolled in nursing program that does not lead to registration as a registered nurse. For example, enrolled in nursing programs and postgraduate nursing programs. RNS are chosen for their scope of practice and the training requirements. RNS reported experiencing WPV mainly from colleagues, staff, teachers, doctors and supervisors, which resulted in leaving nursing practice, impacting students' progression and healthcare systems. This review examines all types of violence RNS face irrespective of the abuser. Methods: A qualitative systematic review of existing literature was conducted through a comprehensive database search of eight databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus, Embase, Cochrane Central and ProQuest. Furthermore, reference lists of included studies were searched to identify further research. English language qualitative primary studies of any study design were searched from inception to 6th June 2022 and included if they met the inclusion criteria. Double review process utilised from screening until data synthesis reported according to PRISMA. JBI critical appraisal tools were used to assess the studies, and data extraction utilised JBI QARI tool and screened for credibility and confidence in findings. Results: A total of 18 studies met the inclusion criteria, and the studies were conducted in nine countries. Five main themes relating to RNS experiences of WPV while on clinical placement were identified, including: ‘Types of workplace violence’, ‘Perpetrators’, ‘Causes’, ‘Consequences’ and ‘Management of workplace violence’. Conclusions: This qualitative systematic review provides new and significant knowledge in understanding the phenomenon of WPV experienced by RNS while on clinical placement. Relative to clinical practice: This review highlights the unwillingness of RNS to reach out to instructors or clinical placement leaders in many situations and identifies avenues of support and awareness that are crucial to empower and enabling students to seek support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6136-6164
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Early online date11 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • nursing
  • perception
  • qualitative research
  • students
  • workplace bullying
  • workplace violence


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